First Steps to an NGN Transformation Plan


First Steps to an NGN Transformation Plan

Networks were once relatively simple pieces of infrastructure because traffic was simple: emails, printing, documents being shared or saved. Not any more...

Consider the network environment and the business internet it’s now connected to. Wired and wireless LANs and WANs, data centres, normal offices but also campus environments. BYOD means there will be almost as many flavours of endpoint as there are devices – and that’s just the physical elements of the network.

There has been a steady transformation of traffic as well. Audio and video streaming, VoIP, video conferencing, media rich websites and social media all present challenges for network managers.

Next-generation traffic is all of the above on a mixed wired and wireless network with a burgeoning stack of latency-intolerant applications and services such as cloud and real-time video. Add the network requirements of big data and it’s not surprising many IT professionals find the challenges daunting, even though we’ve yet to mention the Internet of Things (IoT).

As with any large project it helps to break it down into smaller pieces, and building a next-generation network (NGN) is no different.

Mindset: An NGN is about services not hardware

A journey of 1000 miles starts with a single step, and it’s often that first step that’s the hardest. When it comes to creating an NGN transformation plan, it’s vital to move away from the traditional line of thinking about a network being hardware and software, and instead thinking of it as a service.

If you’re thinking of NGN as a service, it’s logical that service should be as flexible as possible in terms of composition, features and endpoint mix. With the right service-layer architecture, it won’t matter if an endpoint is a wired phone, a tablet, a PC or a television. Nor will it matter if that endpoint is accessing the network over a wired or wireless connection.

Structure network and business systems around services – not technologies

Networks used to be built around technology. Now, the cutting-edge network has been decoupled from the physical infrastructure and it’s all about services and service providers such as Superloop. This creates an environment where performance is critical. Service contracts will be short term relative to previous eras where organisations could be locked into a particular technology for decades.

Identify the infrastructure implications of current and future needs

One of the main pieces in the NGN puzzle will be the software-defined network (SDN), a network where the control layer is decoupled from the data layer. One of the opportunities offered by SDN is that it’s no longer necessary to plan for every single piece of equipment or technology that will be needed in the network.

Instead, think of what the NGN needs to do now and in the future. Each of those needs – voice, video, big data – will have an implication for the infrastructure of the NGN.

As always, there will be synergies and once these and the benefits of addressing the needs you’ve identified are taken into account, it will be easy to see where to get most ‘bang for your buck’. The other opportunities should then be rated using the same marginal reaction analysis to provide a roadmap.

Create an effective NGN transformation plan

This process has developed a scope for your NGN transformation plan. A lot of the hard work has been done, but help will be needed to develop an actionable implementation plan. This is where service providers come in.